By: LABAN ROBERT
Most religions in the world have fundamental differences in their doctrines. The differences range from the houses of worship, tools, literatures and symbols.
The religions, though, believe in a supreme being who is the source of life. Many of the religions have holy shrines.
On October 3, thousands of Catholic and non-Catholic pilgrims flocked Village of Mary Mother of God Shrine in Nakuru to pray for Pope Francis’ maiden tour of Africa.
Mombasa Archbishop Martin Kivuva Musonde, who has set up two worship shrines in Machakos, said the holy places are “chimneys for venting out chokes of smoke” resulting from daily worries.
Shrines are not unique to Catholics.
“Shrines provide a reflective, and meditative atmosphere required to infuse a fresh spirit to an emotionally suffocating soul,” said Archbishop Musonde, who established Our Lady of Koma Rock and Divine Mercy shrines.
“Shrines are like telecommunication masts. There is no obstruction between God and his servant (faithful),” he said.
The archbishop said shrines, public or private, offer a one-on-one touch with God.
The Village of Mary Mother of God Shrine has 14 stations representing the stages of Jesus’s suffering before death.
“Pilgrims share in Christ’s cup of tribulations before they arrive at the top —the epitome of spiritual freedom,” said Archbishop Musonde.
“In 2004 while people prayed at Koma Rock Shrine, some claimed they heard the cries of a baby. They associated it to baby Jesus,” said the archbishop.
Pilgrims meet at the shrine, which is about 50kms from Nairobi, every first Saturday of February.
The Nakuru National Shrine was named the Village of Mary Mother of God in 1984 by Maurice Cardinal Otunga.
It is also a tourist attraction in the Rift Valley, which has a spring of cold water that is believed to have healing powers.
The spring started flowing in December 1991, and has never dried up.
On the eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, on December 1991, it is said that while clearing bush near the shrine, Mr Henry Muthuku, a supervisor, stumbled on a wet patch that had a small spring of water.
Other springs include the Maria Mfariji in Marsabit which was opened in 2006.
Kitui County is also home to Our Lady of Protection Shrine at Museve.